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  • Japanese Buddhist Temples in Hawaii 3

    Japanese Bnddhist Temples in Hawaii

    A Cthse Study oww the Daifukww-ji Soto-Shww Missioww

    David ABE

    Keywords: Japanese, Temples, Comm knity, Yonsei, Gosei


    This artic}e examines the revitaiization of a Japaxxese Buddhist temple ixx a spatiai

    demographic ehanging period through a detai}ed case study, among the yoknger

    generatiolt of Japanese Americans in the Kona coffee district of The Big Islaxxd of

    Hawaii. The Daif kku-ji Soto Shu Mission is one of the two }argest temples in the area

    which have chaltged to meet the needs of the younger generation altd open their door to a

    variety of m k}tiethnic members. This artiele presents the resuks of an investigation of

    the following qaxestioxx: What characteristics of actors ixxvoived ixx these ixxteractioxxs

    affected these changes? The analyses are based on qualitative data col}ected from a

    series of in-depth individua} altd group ltarratives with alt interethnic, mixed-gender.


    This ethnegraphic study centers on the members of Japanese Buddhist Temples on The

    Big Island of Hawaii. The study foc kses on the Kona coffee comm knity where Buddhist

    temples are alt essentiai e}ement to nearly all of the Japanese commaxxxity. One of the

    main objeetives in this study is to obtain insights in the revitalization of Japanese

    Buddhist Temp}es amoltg the fourth and fifth generation youltg Japanese American

    communities. Analyzing a variety of actors, cukural and language acquisition

    indicators, may determine the abseltce or preseltce of Japaxxese Americaxx distinctivexxess

    and its relationship to extema} influences from generational transformation. This

    ixxdicatioxx may focus the research olt the development of a muki-contextua} model that

    may measure the existence or non-existence of aceukuration. If to some extent the

    indications of actors, }angaxage acquisition, gender egalitarialt axxd acculturation have

    occurred, then the Japanese B kddhist Americans in Kona sho kld have a higher degree

    of sense of community which cou}d expiain the present revitaiizatioxx phenomena amoxxg

  • 4 Jskbet}ikosL,Agt}ikfiFg:N$EIEEIIf ¢;lg14-SI

    the fourth and fifth generations.

    The present approach takes into account multiple coxxtexts and individual attachments

    within those eontext. Akhough it is probab}y impossib}e to cover all aspeets within

    those contexts, but at a minimum we can improve upolt the sing}e context approach

    typica}}y ksed in literatkre. This study will take into account the temples, farms,

    communities axxd ail coxxtexts that have been examined in numerous studies. '

    It is of anthropo}ogicai interest to determine whether these generations of Japanese

    Americans have preserved their culture in general and their future towards

    reorganization altd revitalization in particular at these Japanese Buddhist tempies. Alt

    abundance of literature has addressed the early immigration of Japanese Americans to

    Hawaii as a resuk of the booming sugar cane industry, yet information olt the Koxxa

    coffee commknity is }imited. In numeroks works celebrating the achievements of

    Japanese Americans in Hawaii, snch as Franklin Oda's A Aetzkere Uistory of the

    cfkxpanese in Hawaii, f885-1924 and Roland Kotani's The c7Zzpanese in ffawaii." A Centzery

    of Stretgglq the sigltificance of The Koxxa coffee farmers' Japanese community is

    relegated to a mere paragraph or severa} photographs. Researeh work on Hawaii's labor

    history, snch as Romaid Takaki's Paet Uana." Mantatton Lijle? and Labor in ffawaii, and

    Edward Beechert's Working in ffawaii" A Labor History, as well as historical overviews

    of Hawaii's history, such as Gavan Daws's Shoal of Time." A ffistory of the Uawaiian

    ISIanels, and Lawrence H. F kchs"s ffawaii Pono." A Soeial ffistonyy, either exc}ude a

    discussion oxx coffee, or at most dedicate a coup}e pages to the experiences of the Kona

    coffee farming community

    The Kona coffee Japanese Ameriean community has been the subjeet of several articles

    and research papers (Embree 1941; Saxxada 1979; Lind 1939, 1967; Iki 1996; Kinoshita

    2002; Nishiyama 1970) all deal primari}y with identity and ethnie community. Here we

    are ixxterested ixx the Japanese Americaxx transltational iabor migratiolt phenomena that

    at one point in time was approximately 40 pereent of the population in the Kona

    district that started ixx the }ate 1860s (Lind 1967).

    Withixx this weil-estabiished body of iiterature on the Japaxxese Americans in Hawaii I

  • Japanese Buddhist Temples in Hawaii 5

    could not fixxd a sixxgie paxbiished work on the Japaxxese Kona coffee singie family

    farming community with regards to these Japanese Buddhist temp}es whieh are

    centralized ixx its community. The majority of pub}ished works on Japaxxese labor

    migration in Hawaii were issues of commercial farming at large sugar p}antations. I

    find the Kolta coffee Japaxxese American single family farming extraordinary, unique

    and self-conscious of its own ethnicity.

    The first priority of issues we must attend to in this seetion is the name of this

    community. Throughout the academic community in America, American historians have

    referred to the Japanese sugar cane migrant }aborers in a pejorative manner by the

    term that means "Jap slaves." When I brought up the issue of offending others in

    pub}ications, our participants said they wanted ks to refer to them using their own

    term. For that reason, we refer to this community with the name they use with pride:

    Kona coffee Japanese farming comm knity.

    Jmpecnese Americame Commmemeity Seesing GeogrmphieagZy

    Between 1868 and X940, some 275,OOO Japanese people immigrated to Hawaii and to the

    U.S. mainlandi. The majority of the Japanese came from Hiroshima, Yamaguchi,

    Northem Kyushu, and Kagoshima prefectures (Tamura 1994). Many of the first

    Japanese immigrants were contract iaborers working in the saxgar cane farms of Hawaii

    and fruit and vegetable farms of California. While some Japanese immigrants gave up

    on America and returned to Japan, many remained, piacing their hopes on their

    American-born children and endeavoring to provide a better future for the sueceeding

    gexxeratioxx. The iilssei, from Japaxx, faced the difficulty of creating a xxew life ixx

    America that included e}ements of their traditional cukure.

    Where these Japanese immigrants today reside in the district of Kona, Hawaii is not

    accidenta}. The hot and humid mountain setting oxx the slopes of Mt. Hualalai altd

    Mauna Loa in Kona, Hawaii provide the ideal venue for the famous Kona coffee and a

    perfect haven for the Japaxxese Americans from the beginning of the 19th Century until

    present day. The Japanese American Kona coffee community is approximately fifteen

    miles sonth toward the mountains from the city of Kai}ua Kona along the Mamalahoa

  • 6 Jskbet}ikosL,Agt}ikfiFg:N$EIEEIIf ¢;lg14-SI

    Highway or "coffee beW' The district of Kolta itse}f is a tract of about 840 square miles,

    of which a twenty-five mile strip abo kt two miles wide running along the mountain side

    at an eievation of one to two thousand feet, is settied by Kona coffee farmers. In part,

    some of these farmers live on }ease and some are land owners of two to six acres. The

    rocky lava with a few patches of soii here and there is p}axxted thick}y in a sort of

    scattered formation unlike farms in Japan where erops are planted in straight lines.

    Geographically speaking, in 1959 there were approximately 300 Japanese Ameriean

    Famiiies in the Kealakekua and Captain Cook areas of which, 200 were directiy reiated

    to coffee farming (Morioka 1981). A few years later, with the modemization of the jet

    airplane cuttixxg the time from mainiaxxd America to Hawaii in half, the tourist ixxdmstry

    began to flo krish providing attractive new jobs for the loeal people. As the tourist

    ixxdmstry expanded, demand for professional workers from the mainiand a}so brought in

    greater numbers of new comers to the eommunity. For some unspecified reason, most

    of these newcomers usaxal}y settled outside of the Japanese commaxnity coffee farming

    area. At present, the Japanese eoffee farmers' communities with their Japanese

    Buddhist temples and Japanese Christian churches have been geographica}ly isolated for

    the last 30 years. In light of this, it beeame clear that geographical}y these temp}es and

    the Japaxxese community are intertwined and moided by the overiapping of space by

    economic and the sense of comm knity.

    Jmpanese Bmeddhist tempges in Hawnti

    At present there are a little over 100 active temples in the greater state of Hawaii, Oah k

    with 66 temples and The Big Island of Hawaii with 26 and the remainder on the onter

    island. The Kona Daifukuji Soto Mission is the second largest temple within the Kona

    coffee Japanese commuxxity of practice. This year the temple is celebrating the 100th

    anniversary of its estab}ishment in Kealakekua-Kona, Hawaii. At present, the Temple

    has approximateiy 160 fami}y members which inc}ude 16% non- Japanese.

    Hawaii's Japanese Americalt populatiolt mainiy coxxsists of the third and the fourth

    generations, and Buddhism contin kes to perform an important ro}e in Hawaii's Japanese

    society. However, it is fairly obvious to everyone that the Sansei generation of Japanese

  • Japanese Buddhist Temples in Hawaii 7

    Americaxxs iost various aspects of their traditional cukural values and heritage which

    earlier generations had passed on (Matsumoto 1973; Montero 1975: Israely X976) and the

    re}atioxxship of past experience, community, axxd cu}tural heritage (Hosokawa 1973;

    Yamamoto 1974). k has been c}aimed that Sansei and succeeding generations no long

    appear Japanese (Ogawa, 1973; Kiefer, 1974). At the same time, Sansei generations began

    to serious}y question the values of their ancestral ck}tkres during this time, the

    Japanese American Buddhist temples were at its }owest attendance, altd these oid

    traditional approaches were not appealing to the members. The outdated methodologica}

    reiigious teaching abiiity that was taught to chiidren in these Suxxday schoois was

    inadequate to maintain young Japanese American's interest in the temples. With respect

    to these trends, the chalienge for today's Buddhist tempies is discouraging: how to

    make Bkddhism and Japanese tradition relevant and vital to the current and the

    sncceedixxg generatioxxs of Japanese Americans in Hawaii.

    As with axxy other study, I foultd myself with defixxitional criticism which saxggested

    that I needed to be absolutely c}ear conceming the type of community I was st kdying.

    in the case of the Japanese Americaxx Baxddhist commaxnity, the temples in the Koxxa

    region were mainly relationa} communities. Members travelled from all over the area

    to attend services that were heid in their geographic neighborhood. Olt the other hand,

    in a rura} setting where a majority of residents in small towns were still of Japanese

    American descent, the commaxnity was much more geographic in mature, with peop}e

    attending the same temple as their neighbor.

    Reorgecntxation of the Japecnese Americame Bmeddhist TempZes

    This research attempts to explain the condition and characteristics that affected these

    changes in this Japanese American community. The adaptive phase of reorganization

    was deak with by intense interaction, sharing and col}aboration. These actions res klted

    ixx extreme measures for learning and innovatiolt. The community of practice moved

    from the adaptive phase reorganization to reorganization to utilization which, created

    iearning axxd inxxovatiolt. Those conditions and characteristics that affected this

    transformation d kring the adaptive phase of reorganization will be diseussed first. This

    discussion is fo}}owed with axx analysis of those conditions altd characteristics that affect

  • s Jskbet}ikosL,Agt}ikfiFg:N$EIEEIIf ¢;lg14-SI

    the chaxxging process as the system moved ixxto the adaptive phase of utilization.

    Reorgecntuation (The Akdecptive Phasoj

    Improved efforts of interaction, sharing and co}}aboration were characteristics of the

    reorganization phase. These characteristics were mainly the resuk of severa} faetors:

    new leadership, a patterxx of added gender egalitariaxx interactiolt, the need for new

    knowledge and individ kals with diverse experienees; the demand for young actors to be

    ixxvolveck axxd a number of crises or leamixxg events which provided teachable moments.

    There was no apparent divisioxx between the adaptive phase of declixxe/coliapse altd the

    adaptive phase of reorganization. Members of the temple began to decrease in the ear}y

    1970's, but introduction to new ixxltovated ideas did not begin to emerge as a practice

    until the mid X980s with generational changes from the kpcoming young members.

    During the adaptive phase of deeline, members of the community of praetice began to

    ixxteract differently in social situations. When the smailer Japanese community began to

    realize that they were knable to sustain membership in the temples, they became more

    secretive about sharixxg information with xxolt-close friends. Some members tumed to

    Protestant Christianity or other Buddhist sects where they could meet more Japanese

    Americaxx friends, dne to the fact that their own temp}e did net meet their needs as a

    sense of eommunity. As a result, some women had to attend two temples or churches

    to keep their network of friends and family as the deciine continued.

    These different patterlts of interactiolt affected the social altd nataxral eltviroltment

    negatively. When men and women and even relatives shared less information with their

    peers, they weakened their horizonta} ties. When families moved to a different tempie

    or church, they placed additional pressure on an already stressed resouree base. When

    they were axxxable to saxpport sma}}er busixxesses with services or prodaxcts, their vertical

    ties significantly weakened or disappeared. In addition, if men fo knd themselves, doing

    business with other competitors, they further dimixxished horizoxxtal ties with friends

    and sometimes family members. When women attended a seeond church, the immediate

    result was to increase leveis of connectedness within the ltnclear altd extended family.

  • Japanese Buddhist Temples in Hawaii 9

    However, additioxxai altd/or aitemative community friends ied to less time with their

    original members of the temp}e whieh frequently weakened horizontakies with family

    (both extended axxd nuciear) and community axxd the verticai ties they estabiished were

    usua}ly weak.

    in the The Seareh for Aagtemntive

    As the members in the eommunity declined and disappeared, some individua}s began to

    }ook for akemative ways of restoring or keeping the Japanese community as a viab}e

    entity. Reverend S kz kki from a B kddhist temple on the West Hawaii Kona, responded,

    "I was always concern about how this temple can go olt, so I was just lookixxg for

    something I ean do here, at first I }ooked into what those other temples were doing and

    I even iooked into temples in California bnt other temples were having the same

    problems. So I began to ask young members q kestions about what are important to

    them and how I caxx make this place happen again, and I fouxxd ont incredib}e thing that

    made me turn to a different direction for the temple."

    His desires to find ways to bring the temple closer to the eommunity met with many

    challenges. Similar to most Japanese priests when arrivixxg from Japalt, he spoke }ittie

    or no English. Furthermore, the cukure had drastieally changed over the last severa}

    decades. Though he found that the majority of the members of the tempie sought

    marginal changes, he then eontinued in a modest way to gradua}}y implement slight



    His first accompiishment was improving commaxnications between the priest and the

    members of the temple by changing the language of comm knieation to English. He

    began by explaining his sermoxxs ixx Eltg}ish; in additioxx he used storytel}ing to apply

    the teaching into practica} everyday normal living. In doing so, the month}y services

    became edncational axxd meaningfu1 to everyone that attended. in additioxx, he taught

    the members of the temple the rit kals assoeiated with the speeial serviees; funera}s,

    memoriais, Obolt and a few others. According to Bob, a fisherman and a part time

  • 10 ISkbet}ikosL,Agt}ikfiFg:N$EIEEIIf ¢ilg14-SI


    "Yozx know when yoLg attend a junereal or a wake yoet know that

    bex with the bzsrntng senko that is passeal arozenal to everyone. VVell

    he tolal zkes that in inalia ofter someone dies, they bzkem those boalies

    with btyakztalan wooal and the relative& frienals ameal neighbozsrs

    wozkelal eaeh add a pteee of wooal to for the /Zre. Well to replieate the

    same idea we ztsed a small fire in that bex that is passeal arozsnel

    to everyone at the servicel'

    According to several members, "those are the types of ideas which he put in p}ace and

    was (extreme}y) successful which; to a }ot of members were the first stepping stone to

    gradual changes in these tempies."

    Soon after, he started to ixxtroduce the written discourse in Japanese bnt msing the

    English alphabet as a means of reading or sounding okt the ritual ehants. A few

    members said that, "as time went by we began to see more Exxglish in the church and

    even the priest, as time went by, his English got better and we began to eommunicate


    As ail these change begaxx to appear, the temple down the road began to rea}ize that

    these changes were having a significant effect on the entire Japanese community and

    therefore, started to execute changes as weil. The other temp}e begaxx scheduling two

    serviees. In the moming, one in eomp}etely Japanese and the other in a more English

    fashion. Mrs. Tanaka, "It was strange in the beginxxing to hear the Okyo in Engiish, so

    for me I prefer to listen to the Okyo in Japanese beca kse its tradition for me."

    In terms of language, when the members were able to comm knieate thro kgh eultura}}y

    and spoken discourse it encouraged a sense of trmst. As I ixxterviewed the participants,

    I discovered that when the priest was eapable of eonveying his message to the members

    of the temple, people fek c}oser and a sense of trust would siowiy buiid. The temp}es

    with a priest that eommunicates we}1 with its members can be notieed quickly, the

    positive responses from its members are revealed at once with great passion.

  • Japanese Buddhist Temples in Hawaii 11

    Eargy Resistance to ehameges

    At first, the priest foultd it extremely difficult to convince the e}der}y members in the

    Japanese comm knity to become involved in his new changes. Jerry, spoke about several

    eideriy members refusing to accept the new changes which iead a few elderly members

    stepping down from their positions as board members. "There was this eighty year old

    malt that was a big member here that got ixxto a big fight with the priest axxd he ieft

    for about seven years, but he is back."

    Part of the difficuky for most e}der}y members was the resuk of pre-existing norms,

    the fact that through changes there would be a possibi}ity of ontsiders being admitted

    to the Japanese community's temples. Also the other reason was the fact that some

    peop}e prefer a status quo, many members fek comfortable of the way in which these

    temples were conducted. S ksan an elderly member of a temple told of how the members

    empioy the same contractor for many years to repair and maintain the structure of the

    temple. As non-Japanese outsiders slowly became members and gained power within the

    temple, they demanded a biddixxg system to lower costs and eiimixxate the old ways of

    operations. "You can't trust these people, they don't knderstand o kr ways."

    As mentioned above, the fact that the language of communication had beeome English,

    this reform met severe eariy resistance as weil. According to a priest, a iarge percentage

    of the e}der}y members prefer to }isten to the sermons in the original traditional

    maltner. In fact, there are several temples that perform two services, the morning ixx the

    traditional form and the later in English. This phenomenon is not uncommon; the

    Cathoiic churchesX faced a simi}ar situatioxx in the 1960's when they made the

    transformation from Latin to the loca} language.

    The New Way

    The initial success the members experienced with the temple meant a new direetion for

    many. The community was ab}e to become closer to their Buddhist re}igion, which made

    people feel more involved with the priest. As eommunication between members of the

    temple stabilized, various inltovative ideas were implemented to improve the atmosphere

  • 12 ISkbet}ikosL,Agt}ikfiFg:N$EIEEIIf ¢ilg14-SI

    of the temp}e. People were ab}e to pick up a short }eaf}et or a book axxd start studying

    about their own re}igion, and begin to develop knowledge about their past traditional

    culture. As the yoaxnger generation begaxx to accumulate know}edge of their Buddhist

    re}igion and eulture, the e}der}y members who were proficient in the Japanese }ang kage

    had a diminishixxg role ixx the temple.

    Ame ineweased Roge for Womeme

    The reorganization of the Buddhist temp}es provided women with opportunities to

    interact different}y with the ehanging community in practice. There seem to be several

    factors that fuelied this movement. The first factor was the greater ega}itarian nature

    of the non-formal elasses. Seeond, the existent norm encouraged women to s kpport their

    husbaxxds, fami}ies, friends, and their temp}e during times of hardship. Third, women

    provided their hard work in what was initially a labor intensive practice. Al} of these

    factors greatly increased ixxteractioxx and coiiaboration between men axxd women.

    Women ixx the past provided important roles during hard times both in the community

    and in the temple. As the temples began to lose some of its members, and with internal

    disagreements among the e}der}y members, and the younger generation woman slowly

    became active in several different ro}es whi}e increasing their already high level of

    coltnectedness. The gender egaiitarian ltature of the c}asses piaced both the men axxd the

    women on to some extent one step eloser to equa} footing.

    On the west side of Hawaii in Kona the Daif kkuji Soto Mission has severa} women on

    the board committee, as of 2005 the president of this tempie is of ltoxx-Japanese ancestry

    and a woman. The phenomenon develops into something ineredib}y interesting as a

    woman priest was selected to }ead the members of this temp}e. At present, this temple

    is experieneing great success with the majority of its members. One member of this

    temple explained that, "the attendance is up axxd the people aroultd this temple seemed

    m keh more happy and j kst the atmosphere is better."

  • Japanese Buddhist Temples in Hawaii 13

    New Gender Roges

    The new iimited egaiitarian relationship between men axxd women resulted in the

    sharing of new perspectives in these temples. For the most part, the eommunity thought

    women kept most men informed about various interna} issnes. Keliy said, "Men don't

    really eare about }ittle things or what's rea}ly going on as opposed to ks (women)."

    Severa} women expressed the difference between women and men. One said, "Men are

    out there doing the back breaking hard work and don't have time to think about stupid

    things like this. And women are in charge of keeping peaee in the house and the garden

    and the kitchen, that's just the way it is. Where as we (women) keep everything in

    harmony and hold the family together and with this church, it brings the fami}ies

    together closer as a community, the men dolt't really care abont who the active

    members are or who the president is this year or...."

    The majority of both men and women had very similar mindsets. They added that the

    need of working together towards immediate needs altd long-term issnes, providing the

    necessary budget for future edkcation (college) and socia} eare for the elderly.

    Frequently, both the men axxd women talk abont their lives altd the hope that their

    chi}dren and grandchi}dren wo kld have the same fate as to beeome active members of

    their same tempie. Oxxe person mentioned, """emy worst fear is that I can think of,

    whieh eou}d be in the near future, is my grand children have to grow kp in the Big

    Isiand where they could not have the chance to attend this temple." k appears that

    over time, perhaps as a res kk of interaction the men began to have a greater feeling

    towards these concerns.

    in terms of the future of these temples, women appear to look at these changes

    different}y and don't rea}}y share the same perspectives as the men. As the women

    began experiencing alt increase in equality, the admittances of nelt-Japanese members

    inereased whieh }ead to discrimination issues. For the women who had increased their

    active roles ixx the temp}es, their ideological approach to these issnes was viewed as

    positive. Sue a long time member said, "Most women in our church welcome most

    white-outsider but Ws the men that realiy give them a hard time, not necessary ixx

  • 14 ISkbet}ikosL,Agt}ikfiFg:N$EIEEIIf ¢ilg14-SI

    words bnt you kxxow that kind of evil look." Several maie participaxxts added ixx a

    moderate voice that, "It would be sad when the day comes that the majority of the

    members are hao}es." I a}so smspected that as additional white non-Japaltese members

    gain power in the internal affairs of the temples, the women are faeing a simi}ar

    animosity from the men.

    Severa} women strongly said that communication axxd interactiolt increased women's

    respect for men and also men's respect for women. Susan commented that when men

    realized that the women were working and doing the same thixxgs that they were doing,

    "they came to respect ks and that made it easy for us to talk to each other, where we

    could go to them because they knew the ins and outs of the church so much better than

    we did". Inereased respect }ed to more meaningful comm knication and a sharing of

    differeltt perspectives.

    Men who did net participate in tempie activities with women fe}t that the tempie had

    a lesser impaet on the comm knity. This gro kp spoke more frequently about how it is

    ixxevitab}e that white ontsiders wili someday take control. One long time member said,

    "This place cannot stay like this forever".

    Another faetor that inf1 kenced patterns of interaction and learning was the fact that

    womelt foultd themse}ves involved ixx several differexxt ro}es whi}e melt were involved ixx

    only one. In their household women retain their full or part time jobs, took care

    househo}d work, provided addition heip to their husbaltd altd attended iimited amount of

    function in the temple. At times these roles resuked in a woman's connection of weak

    ties with individuais of members of the tempie community. Pre-existing norms that

    discourage men and women who were not related from interacting with one another

    weakened women's abi}ity to form vertica} ties. These similar norms axxd the reaiization

    that women found themselves accountable for fami}y and eommunity enab}e them to

    more effective}y develop and maintaixx horizonta} ties. Nonetheless, as a resuk of the

    numerous roles women found themselves playing, they had }ess time to maintain social

    ties and }ess time to interact with the Japanese American temple community. Numerous

    roles then decreased women's access to resources and, as a result decreased opportunities

    for }eaming.

  • Japanese Buddhist Temples in Hawaii 15

    The men, with their energy focused on bui}ding a farm and a business, discovered that

    they were foreed to established both horizontal and vertica} ties. In the beginning this

    new task seemed difficult. One farmer's wife said, "He }ikes to stay on his farm axxd

    do farm work instead but now that he has to do other things now because I am doing

    other things myself."

    Pre-existing nerms that had prevented men from communicating with unveiated women,

    whether the relationship was horizontal or vertica}, had also diseo kraged interaction

    between ixxsiders altd outsiders. These pre-existing norms worked in opposition to the

    establishment of effective vertical and horizontal ties and may have decreased some of

    the potentia} for learning as the Japanese Americaxx temple commaxnity of practice


    Ame in¢rensed Roge for the Prtest

    As these temp}es became modernized, the role of the priest evolved. There was a need

    for new leadership axxd for priests with diverse experiences axxd as these chaltges

    oec krred, they became more va} ked. The pre-existing norms for the priest in the past

    compared to today's standard are to a iarge extent out dated. The majority of the

    temples in Hawaii expect the priest to have a high proficiency in the English language.

    For the temp}es that are snccessfu} in Hawaii, these priests are usaxally locally borlt ixx

    Hawaii and enrol}ed in some limited training in Japan.

    Susan a long time member of the Hongwanji Mission explained, "We got rid of the old

    priest because he couldn't speak good Exxglish axxd these Japanese priest thinks very

    different from usseee and so on in Hilo (the other side of the island) there is this yo kng

    priest who grew axp here and he is so good, we caxx conxxect with him because for oxxe

    thing he speaks English and he can understand Hawaii peop}e. He goes baek and forth

    from Hi}o and here (Kona)".

    in terms of cu1ture which a}so functions as a means to communication among the

    community, the pre-existing norm enables the priest and the members of the temple to

    work together in a fairly comfortab}e maltner because the first and second generatioxx

  • 16 ISkbet}ikosL,Agt}ikfiFg:N$EIEEIIf ¢ilg14-SI

    Japanese Americaxxs shared similar cultural vaiues. In the case of the foaxrth altd even

    fifth generation, the know}edge of authentie Japanese eu}ture has slowly diminished

    which has created a iack of commaxnication due to culture c}ashes that pose much

    diffic klty among members and the priest.

    Aecording to severa} members, "the Japanese priests that eomes from Japan are not

    open and friendly, I mealt it's difficult to exp}aixx but, it seems that the priest that

    comes from Japan j kst don't want to even try to connect with the people of the church.

    Usaxaily the priest wiil read the chants altd quick}y would like to retire to the back."

    Harry another member when commenting on the priests that are }ocally traixxed, "you

    can ask him anything about o kr Buddhist faith and, what makes me feel good abo kt

    him is that he calt explain easiiy so I calt ultderstaltd".

    Malty young participants talked abont how they seek the desire to knew about their

    religion and in tum are not afraid to ask q kestions about their faith, in comparison

    to pre-existing ltorms of not to questioxx their faith. Therefore, the need for reiigious

    and spiritual know}edge as people re}ate to their daily life has signifieant}y changed the

    role of the priest. Daxrixxg the pre-existing ltorm the reiationship with the members was

    limited to funerals, memoria} services and traditiona} holiday services, which lead to no

    persoxxai interactiolt or axxy type se}f fulfiilixxg entity.

    At the Daifukuji Soto Missiolt huge chaltges have occurred, with the priest altd several

    members, of the temple services. Interesting aetivities including various cl kbs have been

    growing. Bill a postai service worker altd a }oxxg time member said, "The new priest has

    set up great Dharma c}asses on Thursdays and on Mondays we have additional

    mediatiolt classes. The who}e p}ace has truly changed with the priest beixxg more activ

    e." He went on to say, "In the past there was no way the priest would ever be a part

    of any of these activities." As I observed these c}asses, I was surprised how huge of an

    impact these priests had on the members of these temp}es.

    This particu}ar change led to stronger vertical and horizontakies with many members

    of the greater community on the Big Island of Hawaii. Other temples are continuing

  • Japanese Buddhist Temples in Hawaii 17

    to search for these types of priest, who can bring back knowledge altd energy to their


    Akme ineweased Roge for the Yonmeg Generation

    Despite pre-existing norms and the young growing Yonsei and Gosei Japanese American

    community, the Japanese American Buddhist Temples were force to fill the needs of this

    upcoming vibrant generation. The temples were sometimes forced to broaden their social

    ties both horizonta}}y across the former communities of practice to communicate

    information and to welcome insider of the community. Most often they extended their

    horizonta} ties to outsiders.

    As the Nisei begaxx to age, it was time for the Sansei to take controi of most of the

    responsibi}ities that were held by the previous generation. Jack, a middle age member,

    exp}ained that, "In the past it was difficult to do anything aroultd here becamse the old

    timers were so harded head (conservative) but now when we took over we like to try to

    he}p out the youltg kids so they can have a chance to come back to this p}ace."

    During the pre-existing norms, as stated above, the priest spoke a limited amount of

    English so yo knger members had troub}e in eommunicating with the priest and other

    committee members. As the transformation to the }ocai Exxgiish }anguage was

    implemented there was less need for the elderly Japanese speaking members, which in

    the begixxning was difficuk for the e}der}y to accept. Therefore, when these ro}es for

    the younger generation became avai}able, it created a huge opportunity for ehanges

    Some members talked about how the younger members took over and implemented

    change too quickly. These younger members co}lectiveiy got together and excluded most

    of the elder members which in t krned angered many members to the point that a few

    of them finaily decided to leave. interactiolt with ixxtemal members and the changed

    patterns with increased co}}aboration acee}erated the learning pattem during this

    reorganization phase. Car}, a midd}e age member,

    "When I was growing up and the temple was ali ixx Japanese, I

  • 18 ISkbet}ikosL,Agt}ikfiFg:N$EIEEIIf ¢ilg14-SI

    would have never in my wildest dream that the temple would turn

    out like the way it is today. We got all kinds of things going on

    here that we never had in the past. Since the young generation

    took over this plaee have beeome mueh open and is not as dark like


    Ame inewease roge of the Tempge

    With the chaxxge of }eadership to the youxxger generation, the role of the temp}e

    changed. The temple was used to generate eeonomic capital as well as a tool for

    attracting and maintaining members. During the pre-existing norm, the temp}e acted

    as a place of worship with }imited socializing in comparison to the present.

    At the Daifkkuji Soto Mission there is an orehid elub with very serio ks f}ower

    enthusiasts from every part of the Big Island of Hawaii. The orchid c}ub operates

    mainly from this temple and is widely c klt krally diversified with various ethnic groups.

    The orchid club ho}ds monthly meetings which offer open workshops for beginxxers and

    serious orehid growers. The c} kb frequent}y arrange attractive and bea ktiful exhibitions

    throughout the year. The temp}e provides opportunities for the outsiders altd insiders to

    experienee the eukure of the Japanese American comm knity and the religion in practice.

    The Temple has a}so been ktilized for other traditional clubs and events such as judo,

    karate, taiko drumming, axxd even weddings. As brief}y stated above, daxring pre-existing

    norm these few and limited c}ubs and events were mainly for people of the Japanese

    community with very few exceptions. As the youxxger generatioxx gradualiy gained

    power and interacted with the insiders and outsiders of the community, a mixture of

    various ethnic groups begaxx to joixx these clubs and events. What is aiso saxrprisixxg is

    that there has been a shift in recent years in weddings. Oceasionally the temple has

    been performing wedding for intermarriage and non-Japanese couples.

    As these active c}ubs axxd events ixxteracted with the various surrounding commuxxities

    their horizontal ties to other Japanese American comm knities in praetiee strengthened

    and attracted additioxxai members and vertically contacted other people of the onter

  • Japanese Buddhist Temples in Hawaii 19

    communities. For these study participants, the tempie referred to more thalt ptst being

    a member of this eommunity. It referred to the affective qua}ity of relationships

    between ixxdividuais altd members of the community.


    Akhough anthropo}ogists have been interested in the migratioxx of Japanese Americalt

    laborers to Hawaii and Ca}ifomia, they have mostly been unaware of the migration and

    settlement of the Japanese American Kona coffee singie famiiy farming community.

    The traditiolta} Baxddhist temp}es altd the rich multiethnic society centraiized in the

    Japanese Ameriean Kona coffee farms are the kind of cultural phenomena that makes

    Japanese Americalt culture "Japaxxese." in the very public aspects of tradition or a few

    genera} social experienees such as Japanese food and traditional folk dance, "Obon

    odori," it seem these peopie have accukurated to their new home. Instead, it has been

    several generations that has successfully resisted complete acculturation by tenacio ksly

    keepixxg a foothold on these Buddhist tempies by their cukurai heritage, cukurai

    identity, and by being reminded that despite their Ameriean style house, Christian

    churches surroultding them and their American culture, they were in fact, Japaxxese


    By the late 1970's, and early X980's the Japanese American Buddhist temples on the Big

    Isiand of Hawaii had been at their }owest attendance altd had begaxxx a road to reengage

    the members toward reorganization. The Japanese Buddhist community members located

    ixx the center of the Kolta coffee farm bek began to explore new innovative ways to

    revitalize its yokng kpcoming next generation of Japanese Bkddhist Amerieans. As

    these temp}es provided cu}tural heritage ixx terms of reiigion, cukure, axxd identity prior

    to the declining attendance, the temple and its members took a different direction by

    hiring exceilent }eadership, impiementing effective committed outreach programs, altd

    gender poliey ehanges. This new direetion has provided the temp}e members with a

    priest that effectiveiy communicates bicukural}y altd bi}ingua}ly, and introduces policies

    that he}p strengthen gender that was suppressed for many years.

  • 20 ISkti4klit}ikosiJitt}ikfiFg:N$EISee ng14-SI

    i in "The Japanese Immigration," L & C (Japan: Gradwate Schoo} of Shikeku Gakuein University,

    2003), Toyoshi Kase, building on the work of Frank Chuman, Bill Hosokawa, and Makoto Tsuruki,

    maintains, "It was not until the Meiji Era that Japan opened the country to the outside worid. In

    fact, Meiji cu}ture was born uepon the demise of 250 years of isolatien imposed by the feuda}

    govemment [Shogunate], one of the foreign poliees of whieh was to prevent Japanese from

    trave}iltg abroad, to say ltothing of emigratiolt to foreign countries"

    ii Issei, (the first gelteratielt) and Nisei (the second generation),

    l For special ceremonies iit major cities aeross America the Catholic Church offers a service in the

    traditional Latin form.

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